Subject: Michael Lewis Is a Rude, Vulgar American
From: Dr. Mauro Abate (Roman Homes)
Date: Sat Mar 4
Three hours after Mr. Lewis was in Rome, notwithstanding the excellent service we prepared for him and the good inclination we had toward him, he was at odds with us. He called me during the few hours rest of our nearly non-stop, day-and-night work, and he was most offended when I reminded him of our legitimate company time table, of which he had been already been informed several times. We work 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Despite his rudeness over the phone, we found him a large, most elegant apartment in a historical palazzo, prepared for him before the scheduled arrival time—very well equipped and next to impossible to find in Rome nowadays. Mr. Lewis made a big story out of nothing, resorted to falsifying facts, wrote a defamatory article of e-commerce in Italy based only on his personal case, presented me as a living monster—and please help me if I forgot anything else.
What strikes me about Mr. Lewis is not only the way he misrepresented his individual experience at Roman Homes, but also his mentality in not taking in account how complex the world is, how many underlying and deep-seated historical, cultural, political factors are involved. In other words, how countries and populations can be so different, yet have equal dignity. Will Mr. Lewis ever realize this?
(To read an unedited version of this post, or to reply, click here.)
Subject: Note to Catholic League—Lighten Up
From: Eric Alterman
Date: Fri Mar 24
Catholics looking for insults often have to invent them in order to complain. For instance, during the impeachment battle, I wrote of a "Catholic mafia" of pundits who were attempting to hold Clinton to the moralistic standards they were taught as children. The term "Catholic mafia" was used the same way people frequently spoke (and speak) of Jimmy Carter's Georgia mafia, Ronald Reagan's California mafia, and Elvis Presley's Memphis mafia. But I found myself attacked for anti-Catholic prejudices by an editorial writer in the supposedly sophisticated New York Observer and the supposedly even-more sophisticated Slate, among other places. (To read the Slate article accusing Alterman of anti-Catholicism, click here.)
So my unsolicited advice to Catholics is to lighten up a little. After all, no one's accusing you of being Christ-killers.
[Eric Alterman writes media criticism for The Nation.]
Subject: The Hidden Charm of Ugly Buildings
From: Emily Paster
Date: Mon Mar 27
You know, Chatterbox, just because a building is ugly does not mean it should come down. Buildings grow on citizens of a city; they become a valued part of the landscape for what they represent. Although it's a cliché, it is useful to remember that 19th Century Parisians were horrified by the Eiffel Tower.
As a native Washingtonian (yes, we exist) I myself was horrified by Chatterbox's comments about the Watergate and the Kennedy Center. First, as anyone who has been on the good side of the plane flying into National Airport knows, they are among the most recognized Washington landmarks, standing, as they do, side-by-side. Second, the Kennedy Center is a great performing arts space. Has Chatterbox ever spent intermission on the balcony overlooking the Potomac on a beautiful spring evening? Finally, given that it is now obligatory to add the suffix "-gate" to the name of every political scandal, isn't it kind of fun to have the brick-and-mortar Watergate around? Otherwise, how are we going to explain Flying Car-gate, Internet Porn-gate and other future administration scandals to our children? Personally, I love the idea that people can live and work in a building that is a metaphor (or is it metonym?) for Presidential hubris, elaborate cover-ups and investigative journalism. No amount of weird teeth-like balcony railings could outweigh that.
Subject: Vote With Your Money
From: Tom N
Date: Tue Mar 21
I may just be belaboring the obvious, but investing in a company whose work you support is not the same as betting on the home team. Whereas the home team couldn't care less whether they are bet on, a company does care whether its stock is bought (theoretically, that's all they care about). Buying a stock rewards the company's behavior by raising its price a smidge. In that sense, investing is more like voting, and it's hardly rational, despite the impish "rational" contrarianism that Slate prides itself on, to reward a company whose work you detest.
Subject: What's Behind the Anti-Microsoft Moneybox
From: Michael Maiello
Date: Mon Mar 27
How am I supposed to react to this article?
- The cynical reaction: By allowing its publication to publish this, Microsoft is trying to show that it isn't a dangerous monopoly. It doesn't, after all, suppress news about itself.
- The good reaction: Microsoft honored its commitment to not censoring the news and Slate writers and editors feel free to point out the facts about Microsoft whether good or bad.
- The apathetic reaction: Microsoft doesn't care what the media says about it and anything Slate does is of no consequence to a giant corporation of which Slate is a tiny part.
The cynical reaction seems too paranoid to be true, the good reaction is what I'd like to believe, the apathetic reaction probably isn't true since Microsoft has a huge PR staff ... So what's going on?